The Cost of Pet Insurance

Insuring your pet - how much will it cost?

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Having pet insurance can take a huge weight off your mind - here's what you can expect to pay for cover

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Looking after a pet can be great fun, but it can also be expensive. Your pet might need additional equipment, medication and veterinary care throughout its life. The average vet bill is about £300, which is why so many people take out pet insurance to safeguard against these costs.

 

The cost of pet insurance varies according to the type of policy, the average vet fees in your area, the breed and age of your pet. Our guide to pet insurance costs tells you all you need to know.

All creatures great and small

The cost of cover is largely determined by the type of animal you want to insure. Premiums for horses can be pricey and dogs are generally more expensive to insure than cats.

You can also buy insurance for rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, parrots and other exotic creatures.

It’s worth bearing in mind that most insurers do not cover working dogs, guard dogs, breeding or racing animals. Some breeds are also commonly excluded, notably pit bull terriers, which are banned breeds in the UK. So make sure your pooch is not on the blacklist.

 

location can still play a part in affecting the price of your pet insurance deal

Regional variety

Veterinary fees vary around the country – and it’s no surprise that London vets charge the highest fees. Pet owners in the capital, therefore, pay the highest premiums.

The average cost of ‘platinum’ dog insurance in London is just over £50 a month, compared with £34 a month in Scotland and £35 in East Midlands (MoneySuperMarket Data, 2018).

 

Average Annual Cost of Dog Insurance in 2018

Region

Bronze

Platinum

Greater London

£88.45

£643.47

South East

£87.17

£546.05

East Anglia

£87.08

£467.77

Yorkshire

£86.34

£457.53

South West

£84.46

£463.87

West Midlands

£84.36

£450.74

Wales

£84.31

£417.13

North West

£84.04

£449.09

North East

£83.76

£425.21

East Midlands

£83.37

£426.65

Scotland

£83.09

£416.10

Cost of vet treatments

The cost of veterinary treatments can vary from a few hundred pounds to a few thousand depending on the type of illness your pet has. A simple CT-Scan can set you back £700. Here is a list of the average costs of some popular treatments.

 

Cost of vet treatments

Dental (including extractions)

£255

Fracture Repair

£600-1400

Total Hip Replacement

£3750

Eye Removal

£325

Cystotomy

£675

Liver lobectomy

£1200

Intestinal Foreign Object Removal

£675

Lung Lobe Removal

£1200

CT Scan

up to £700

X-ray

£225

Statistics from the AnimalTrust.org.uk

Pedigree animals

Pedigree animals are usually more expensive to insure than cross breeds, primarily because they are more susceptible to illness and do not generally live as long.

If your policy includes theft cover, the price will also go up because pedigrees are more attractive to thieves. Insurance cover may also take into account the size of your dog as well as the breed.

As you can see from the table below, to cover a French Bulldog with lifetime platinum insurance costs an average of £820 per year compared with a small mongrel, which costs £442.

 

Dog Breed

Avg Annual Quote - Lifetime (platinum)

Bulldog

£954.79

French Bulldog

£820.32

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

£521.19

German Shepherd (Alsatian)

£512.81

small mongrel (up to 10kg)   

£442.55

medium mongrel (10 - 20kg)   

£364.13

large mongrel (more than 20kg)   

£718.09

Age Considerations

Age is another determining factor. Most insurers will happily cover puppies and kittens from as young as eight weeks old.

However, there is often a maximum age limit of nine, 10 or 11 years old depending on the breed. It can, therefore, be tricky to buy a new policy if your pet is elderly, though you should be able to renew existing insurance.

Types of Pet Insurance Policy

There are four different types of policies you can go for: accident only, annual, no time limit and lifetime. Before taking out any pet insurance policy, understand what the level of cover for your pet is and read the small print.

Accident only

Accident-only policies are often the cheapest because the cover is limited to injuries sustained in accidents such as getting run over. Some also include emergency illnesses or illness that results from an accident.

Premiums start at less than £10 a month, but remember, you only have partial protection with this policy: your pet would not be insured if it fell ill or contracted a chronic condition that required ongoing medical treatment.

12-month/annual policies

These policies are up for renewal on an annual basis, and they cover conditions or accidents that occur, within that time.

Annual policies limit how much you can claim for each condition. So, for example, there might be a limit of £2,000-worth of treatments, and a 12-month limit from the time the treatment started. So if you require more than £2,000 of treatment, you’d inevitably have to renew the policy at some point.

That’s not all, though. If an illness or injury extends beyond the 12-month period, you might be able to continue claiming if you renew the policy – although the insurer might decline to offer renewal terms.

Remember that, if you went to a new insurer, any new policy you took out would exclude previously claimed illness’ or injuries.

No time limit

An alternative is a plan that pays out a maximum amount for each condition, but with no time limit.

In other words, you could claim, say, £3,000 for treatment over any number of years. The cover is usually more generous so the premiums tend to be higher. The policy needs renewing once the limit is reached.

When renewing your policy any pre-existing illnesses or condition and will be excluded from your new policy.

Lifelong/lifetime cover

Lifelong policies offer the most comprehensive cover and, therefore, are the most expensive.

Your pet will be covered throughout its life, up to a set amount of cash each year for as long as the policy remains in force and is renewed when required. If you reach the cash limit of the policy, no further payments will be made before the policy is renewed. At renewal, the limit is fully reinstated and conditions will continue to be covered for another year.

Not all lifetime policies are the same, and some might not cover certain pre-existing conditions or for their whole life depending on the age and health of your animal. For elderly pets, policy excess’ and premiums might increase.

One of the advantages of this type of policy is that you can claim multiple times for the same condition. But also note that the insurer is at liberty to increase premiums or exclude pre-existing conditions at each renewal to reflect the number and size of claims on the previous policy.

Another plus point for a lifetime policy is that, if you keep renewing each year, it will provide cover for as long as the animal is alive – well beyond the point at which it would become impossible to take out a fresh policy on your pet.

Regardless of which policy you choose, it is important to read the terms and conditions for certain clauses such as:

  • Requiring you to carry out regular treatments such as annual jabs

  • If pre-existing conditions aren't declared your contract may be void

  • Your new policy might not cover your animal for a number of days after the policy has been taken out

Understanding policy excess

There are various levels of cover available in pet insurance and, as you’d expect, the more generous the cover, the more expensive the premium.

Policyholders should make sure they understand the terms and conditions of the excess, which is the amount you must pay towards each claim.

If, for example, your policy has an excess of £100, it would pay out only £900 on a £1,000 claim, meaning you would have to pay the remaining £100. Usually, policies with a higher excess are cheaper - but be prepared to pay if your pet gets ill.

What isn’t covered by pet insurance?

There are some common illnesses that are excluded from pet insurance policies. These can fall into one of two categories:

  • Chronic conditions: these are ongoing problems your pet has at the time you take out the policy e.g heart conditions

  • Historic conditions: these are illnesses or injuries that your pet no longer suffers from but has had in the past e.g healed tissue

Most insurers also exclude routine and preventative treatments, such as flu jabs and worming pills.  

Many pet insurance plans do not cover pregnancy, so it’s a good idea to make sure your pet is neutered or spayed or could end up with a big bill.

How to cut the cost of pet insurance

If pet insurance is putting a strain on your budget, there are ways to help you cut down the cost...

Microchip your pet

Microchip Your Pet - From April 2016 it became a legal requirement for dog owners to microchip their pets. Thousands of pets are lost every year, many are never found - microchipping can help change this. Some insurers even offer a discount for microchipped pets because they are easier to locate if they are lost or stolen.

Agree to a higher excess

If you agree to a higher excess, you should be rewarded with a lower premium. Just make sure you can afford the excess in the event of any claim.

Insure multiple pets

Insurers often offer a discount of between 5% and 10% if you insure more than one pet.

Pay annually

Some pet insurance companies charge more if you want to spread the cost of cover over monthly installments. It can, therefore, work out cheaper to pay for your policy upfront.

 

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